In recent years, there’s been a growing trend of people looking for ways to reduce their meat consumption as more information is released about the possible adverse effects on both your body and the planet from eating too much meat. Many people — like myself — have opted for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or simply taken steps to implement more plant-based foods and less meat into their diet. This can be a little overwhelming for someone new to a plant-based diet, so here are some tips on how to reduce your meat consumption.
- Do some research
When you’re deciding to reduce your meat consumption, it’s important to know why many people are doing the same or are giving up meat entirely. People give up meat for many different reasons. Most of the people I know did it for environmental concerns, health concerns or animal rights concerns. Whether you’re deciding to reduce your meat consumption or give it up entirely, it’s a good idea to give yourself a reason. This way, you’re motivated and understand your "why."
- Start small
If you’re an avid meat-eater, this can seem intimidating and impossible. It’s okay to start with a few meals a week or even just one whole day without meat. Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to do exactly that — to not eat meat on Monday. The Meatless Monday website has tons of plant-based recipes, tips, and a weekly newsletter you can sign up for. With the growing popularity of this idea, many mainstream food magazines and chefs have created simple meat-free recipes that make going meatless easier.
- Make your regular recipes, but use substitutes
Sometimes it can seem intimidating to learn new meatless recipes, especially if the concept is unfamiliar to you. When starting out, it can be helpful to make what you regularly would, but simply replace the meat with a substitute. This has become increasingly easier over the years as more meatless products have come out. One of my favorite brands is Gardein. They have several meat substitutes, such as chicken strips, meatballs and ground beef that make it easy to recreate your favorite dishes!
- Find a vegan/vegetarian restaurant near you
If you’re trying not to eat meat but don’t feel like cooking, it’s helpful to find a good vegan or vegetarian restaurant near you. As the meat-free lifestyle grows, vegan restaurants have become more popular than ever, even in smaller cities or towns. If there seems to be none nearby, there are likely restaurants that'll have some meat-free options. I know there are a lot around Orlando, and some of my favorites are Ethos, The Sanctum Café and Dixie Dharma. All these restaurants have entirely vegan or vegetarian menus with delicious food!
Reducing your meat consumption can be a gratifying thing, leading you to explore fun new foods that you may have never been motivated to try before.